SGA tables tobacco-free resolution

Mike Stunson

After nearly 45 minutes of debate at Tuesday’s Student Government Association meeting, the senate tabled a resolution supporting a tobacco-free campus until next semester.

Campus improvements chairperson Kaylee Egerer authored the resolution, basing it off a campus-wide survey conducted by political science major Jack Jackson. More than 400 students were surveyed, with 47.82 percent supporting it, 23.47 opposing it and the other 28.71 percent neutral to the ban.

“It’s our responsibility to the student voice as it is heard, and this survey had a large amount of support,” Egerer said at the meeting.

Other senators, however, felt the survey was biased. Tombstones were laid outside Downing University Center on March 30 to show the dangers of smoking when Jackson gave the original survey.

“Since they got the emotional response, the survey is not legit,” said senator Daniel Shaw. “We can’t use that data.”

Shaw also felt SGA should not support the ban based solely off of a one-day survey that resulted in just 400 students taking the survey.

“I want us to do more research and get numbers that aren’t tainted,” he said. “This issue isn’t going away. People will still care next year.”

After Tuesday’s meeting, the campus improvements committee made adjustments and tweaked its position on the issue.

Egerer said the committee won’t support a tobacco ban until the two-year requirement for students to live on campus is removed.

“You can’t tell someone they have to live on campus for two years and not allow them to smoke,” she said.

Devon Hilderbrandt, administrative vice president-elect, was the first to recommend tabling the resolution.

Hilderbrandt suggested talking to incoming students at Academic Transition Programs and Master Plan.

“We can meet over the summer and work this out more,” he said.

The organization will now take the summer to conduct more research and hash out a better plan. SGA president Colton Jessie compared the tobacco-free situation to when SGA tabled a vote on Downing University Center renovations last semester.

The DUC resolution passed unanimously in February after SGA gathered more student input.

“In both situations we needed more time and more information to go further,” Jessie said.

President Gary Ransdell previously said he would not support WKU becoming a tobacco-free campus until all three of WKU’s governing bodies support it. So far, University Senate has supported the ban, while Staff Council has opposed it.

If SGA supports the resolution next semester, the topic may be brought up again to Staff Council.